I try to keep up with metal and heavy rock internationally, but it was nice to get review material from an Iraqi band. Let it not be said I'm not open to metal from all lands.
Acrassicauda: Only the Dead See the End of War
Metal bands love writing about death and war. However, very few bands will be able to call on experiences of actual war to color their lyrical output. This lot, the subject of the documentary Heavy Metal in Baghdad, have seen enough to power the minds of scores of metal bands. And if you want to talk persecution and angst, they have seen their share of that too. They had to flee to the U.S. to pursue their preferred craft.
While only an EP, it’s a pretty tight affair. This is not surprising as it's produced by Testament/Alex Skolnick Trio man Alex Skolnick. There are various influences here from Megadeth on “Message from Baghdad” to something a bit more modern on “The Unknown”. Not one of these tracks disappoint despite their eclectic nature. It’s a release where the band is exploring their influences and finding their feet.
A compelling biography and some damn find metal really combine to quite an interesting package. With their next release, presumably a full one, they will have to emerge from their saga to play in the big leagues. On the strength of this release, they are certain to have a really good crack at it. Certainly a band to watch.
At Vance: Ride the Sky
This band are that European brand of metal that is highly polished, musically proficient, and terribly catchy. For proof, just listen to the soaring track “Last in Line.” It hits all the right triggers over the course of its length. Some might quibble about the pretentiousness of including an instrumental track called “Vivaldi” but that would be petty.
Rick Altzi has a Jeff Scott Soto quality about his voice and successfully avoids the pronunciation pratfalls you sometimes find with this sort of band. His voice is perfectly matched to the soaring guitar widdling of Olaf Lenk. In fact, the only criticism I could muster for this release is the rather pointless, if passable, cover of Bad Company’s “Wishing Well”. That said it could so easily be butchered and the band pull it off with aplomb. This lot don’t need to do covers any more so it’s a bit of waste.